“One’s destination is never a place, but always a new way of seeing things.”
— Henry Miller
It is summer, which means my children are out jetting around like Rockefellers instead of staying home and focusing on unloading the dishwasher the way their mama taught them to.
I say “children” but of course our children are actually young adults of college age. They still live at home, however, so that still affords me the right to harp on them from time to time. Usually, while I’m unloading my own dishwasher.
Cast-off chores aside, it is wonderful having grown children. I get to live vicariously through their adventures from my comfy spot on the couch.
A dear friend taught me this in relation to raising children: “healthy birds fly.”
I think she meant it metaphorically. For us, it’s become more literal.
BoyWonder has been to California and NYC in the last six months alone. He has a passport poised for further wandering. GirlWonder started flying solo when she was 14 years old. Currently, she is spending an extended time on a Carolina beach only to return (briefly) and then jet off to Florida to visit friends. She has a favorite airline.
Meanwhile, the last time I was on an airplane I’m pretty sure it was a biplane.
That said, I am proud to have raised travelers. Henry Miller said “Develop an interest in life as you see it; the people, things, literature, music — the world is so rich, simply throbbing with rich treasures, beautiful souls and interesting people. Forget yourself.”
I think there is a wisdom in this. Particularly as you leave your teens and enter your 20s — a time of navel-gazing self-absorption for some (or maybe that was just me?)
Miller also pointed out (correctly) that “travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.”
It is said that life doesn’t give you a manual, it gives you a mother. This is very true. As the mom, my advice is less about travel tips (they both outpace me in this department), and more about how they present themselves in the world at large. To whit:
If you don’t want anyone to find out, don’t do it. This is true whether in your hometown or hundreds of miles away. This is especially true if traveling to countries where you do not have Miranda rights.
Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt. Trying out the lap of luxury is fun, but so is going off the beaten path.
Nothing makes you appreciate how good you really have it quite so much as unplugging from time to time.
We should certainly count our blessings, but we should also make our blessings count.
Do good deeds with great enthusiasm.
Mark Twain said that travel makes one modest, you see what a tiny place you occupy in the world. This, to my mind, is the main reason to travel.
Wherever you go, near or far, be a nice human. Always. You will make genuine connections anywhere you go if you are first and foremost an authentic and honest person.
It has long been said that when in Rome you should do as the Romans do. This is equally true on the West Coast — or Alabama.
Try new (legal) things. If you are not willing to look stupid — or eat strange foods — once in a while, nothing great is ever going to happen to you.
I am proud of my small town-raised offspring for realizing there is a great big world out there. I want them to spread their wings, while remembering their roots. I think all our young people should go forth and experience this beautiful world through travel and adventure.
Just remember that none of you are allowed to do ANYTHING that begins with the words “hey ya’ll watch this!”
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